Multisystemic enablers of sub-Saharan child and youth resilience to maltreatment

Linda Theron, Adrian van Breda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The resilience of sub-Saharan children and youth to abuse and neglect is under-researched. In particular, the multisystemic and contextually sensitive nature of their resilience is under-appreciated. Purpose: In response we conceptualized a discussion paper. Its intention is to make a case for a contextually relevant, multisystemic understanding of the resilience of sub-Saharan children and youth with exposure to maltreatment. Method: This discussion paper draws on a critical analysis of pertinent peer-reviewed publications. It also draws on our lifelong residence in sub-Saharan Africa and related insight into this region's situational and cultural dynamics. Results: We advance three assertions regarding the multisystemic nature of sub-Saharan young people's resilience to abuse and neglect : (i) family↔communities are pivotal to sub-Saharan child and youth resilience to maltreatment; (ii) institutional supports matter too, particularly when multiple systems interact to provide networks of institutional support; and (iii) the resilience-enabling potential of built and natural environments is yet to be fully harnessed. Conclusion: Interacting social and ecological system factors and processes matter for the resilience of sub-Saharan children and youth who experience abuse and neglect. Appreciation for their complexity and contextual fit are crucial to practice and policy efforts to advance the protection and wellbeing of sub-Saharan young people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105083
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • African children and youth
  • Family↔communities
  • Socioecological resilience
  • Systemic resilience
  • sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Multisystemic enablers of sub-Saharan child and youth resilience to maltreatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this